Monday, September 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Power grab hurts lower-wage workers

Local control is about to be seriously eroded by Republican legislators who would interfere with efforts by Florida's cities and counties to help low-wage workers. The Senate may vote as early as Thursday to prevent local governments from granting private sector workers paid sick leave, which the House already has approved. Local governments ought to be able to help their residents without interference by state lawmakers doing the Florida Chamber of Commerce's bidding.

About 40 percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of low-income workers do not receive paid sick days. That forces retail clerks, child care workers, restaurant servers and others to come to work sick or lose money. Contrary to the claims of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, businesses benefit from paid sick leave requirements. Increases in worker productivity outweigh the relatively small costs, according to a study of Connecticut's statewide paid sick leave requirements.

In Florida, a fight over the issue is centered in Orange County. After a group collected 50,000 signatures to put an earned sick time measure on the ballot, the county commission used underhanded tactics to prevent it from coming before voters last November. A panel of judges found that the commissioners violated the county charter and ordered the measure to be placed on the ballot in 2014.

Now Republican state lawmakers from the region want to bar that vote entirely. Measures sponsored by Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would pre-empt local ordinances across the state that provide workers with certain on-the-job benefits.

Simmons' bill, SB 726, would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave and other family and medical leave benefits. It would also create a statewide task force to study the issue, with members chosen by the Republican leadership of the House and Senate. Don't expect an objective review.

The House-passed HB 655 is even worse than Simmons' bill. It outlaws all local requirements that say employers must provide certain employment benefits and eliminates living wage standards that local governments set with their own vendors.

Counties and cities no longer could require employees of contractors be paid above the state or federal minimum wage. This would pre-empt laws in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and in cities such as Orlando, Miami Beach and Gainesville.

Precourt wants Tallahassee to trash a Miami-Dade County program that has run successfully for 14 years, providing lower-wage workers a better life so they are less reliant on public services and charity.

It's a familiar story. Special interests that lose at the local level go to Tallahassee and pressure a compliant Legislature to see things their way. These two bills would prevent local governments and voters from embracing reasonable job benefits such as paid sick leave. Senators who support local control and a productive work force should reject this power play.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18